Objective: To enhance descriptive writing using verbs and adjectives through visuals showing action
Time: 20 minutes (writing varies)
- Small pictures of animals/ people
- Colored pencils
- White paper
- Construction paper
- Lined paper
When using verbs and adjectives in “action”, it is motivating to give the children pre-drawn pictures of animals or people to color and describe once a week; ages 5-8.
1. Choose a topic to color and describe in an elaborated sentence (i.e. dogs, cats, fish, insects, people etc.)
2. Pre-draw the visual or allow the children to illustrate their own detailed topic and add a background first.
3. Remind the children to add colorful details to the subject. This will enable them to have more to write descriptively.
4. Allow each child to write a descriptive sentence telling what the “subject” or “noun” looks like and what it is doing and “where”.
5. The fluffy cat is soaring in the warm blue sky in my backyard.
adjective noun verb place……. where?….
6. Remind the children to use the verb to describe the action. Sometimes it is easier to tell them to use doing words: verbs with ‘ing.’ You decide what suffixes to include: ly, es, ed
7. In order to reinforce the use of verbs (if this is your ‘skill’ focus), have each child circle the verb. You can do this for nouns and adjectives as well. Have fun and change the colors for each word circled.
Color the cat and background in detail first. Use the visual to drive your writing!
Depending on the skill you are reinforcing, this activity lends itself easily to assessing descriptive sentences, elaborative sentences (answering: who, what, where, why, when, and how), and use of adjectives, verbs and nouns. Be sure to inform your students about your expectations. Perhaps you can orally assess a particular skill by asking the children to tell you to name the verbs, or nouns and adjectives. Their written application will already be completed. Another way to organize your anecdotal notes can be to create a skill chart and check off the skills that have been mastered or need more improvement. See
Other Ways to Use This Lesson
Remember to allow the opportunity for your learners to write “visually”. Let them see the picture before they write. Train them early to ‘visualize’ and see the details. Guaranteed, your students will feel more confident with this approach.
As stated earlier, this lesson can focus on one skill at a time. When you are introducing “verbs” or action words, decide which kind of verb you want them to use and circle those words in their descriptive sentence. Perhaps you can use 3 pictures and the children can write a “verb” to match/describe the action with each. You can try present and past verbs too. List the words and create a verb list or verb pictorial dictionary. This activity can give you an on-going assessment as well. Try this activity with adjectives too.
Additionally, you can use this activity every week for practice along with reinforcing various topics throughout the year. For instance, you may be reading about birds one week, so allow the children to do a similar activity using pictures of birds. If you have stickers, try them to save time. Just illustrate the background. If time is a challenge, keep pictures of animals/people available, with or without a background for your students to use rather than spending time illustrating. If you have time to illustrate, try stencils to trace and add details as needed.
Lastly, glue your work to colored paper and create activity pages for a personal booklet to be shared as the year progresses. All you need is a cover.
About the Author:
Kim Waltmire is a state and national award-winning educator. She holds an honorary seat with the 2006 USA Today All-Star Teacher team. Kim is a graduate from CCSU with a Masters in Early Childhood Education. She published a writing & literacy book; Picturesque Writing, now self-published as The Art of Visual Writing for elementary teachers K-5. Kim also published a Read-Along Series for primary grades, coupled with spelling, grammar, science and social studies lessons for k-12 with a home-school company. Her writing and Project Based Learning strategies were recognized and published in the Creative Classroom Teacher’s magazine; May/June 1998 issue. She was recognized for her educational contributions and Project Based Learning by Oprah Winfrey, interviewed on CNN, Fox News, and honored by the CT State Governor several times. Kim has taught elementary school for 28 years and presently an Educational Literacy Consultant. Kim’s passion is teaching writing literacy for all learning styles.